Life can change in an instant, even if you don’t know it at the time. At least it did for me, one seemingly very ordinary morning, when I was sitting at my homeroom desk in grade 10.
The same everyday announcements blared over the crackling PA system – scores of games that I didn’t care about and the not-so-friendly reminders of what we should and shouldn’t be doing. I was only half listening when I heard a not so ordinary announcement.
“Lasalle Secondary School will be participating in an Arctic exchange program with students from Clyde River, north of the Arctic Circle.”
The sniggers and comments began immediately. “Why would anyone want to go there? It’d be –100 degrees or something,” one student said. “You’d have to sleep in an igloo,” said another. And this was accompanied by lots of laughter.
I didn’t say anything. But my heart beat faster and even though I had hardly travelled outside my hometown of Sudbury and had never even been on a plane before, I knew I wanted to go.
I applied and was eventually accepted. Everyone who knew me was sure I’d hate it. After all, I wasn’t known for being adventurous. I avoided gym class at all cost, wasn’t very outgoing to say the least and usually had my face stuck in a book.
I loved every minute of it.
It was a trip of a lifetime that revealed a different culture, a remarkable landscape and amazing adventures. There was a boy, too, but that’s another story. I returned with a new passion – travel -- and I was determined to see and experience the world.
Anytime there was a chance to go somewhere, I went, even managing to get on a Europe band trip without playing an instrument. But it was really when I finished university that I truly began to indulge my wanderlust.
On my own, with no money, but a working holiday visa to the UK, I started a trip that was intended to be for four months but ended up lasting 7 years with a ton of adventures.
I pulled pints in a pub in the New Forest, a region in the south of England where ponies outnumber people, gardened on a kibbutz in Israel, and worked as a lambing assistant on a sheep farm in Scotland.
My favourite job though was teaching English as a second language which I did in England, Hungary, Ukraine, Egypt and Singapore.
Now I’m back in Canada, living in Toronto, where I teach English to new immigrants and write travel and children’s stories.
I continue to take every opportunity to travel, but now mostly with my family. My two children, aged six and nine, thankfully seemed to have inherited the wanderlust gene.
I dedicated this website to them.